The Institute for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue made a presentation to Harrisonburg City Council on June 28 (video above) regarding public feedback received on the City's American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) engagement process. This feedback will inform City Council's decision-making process as the City looks to use $23.8 million in federal funds received from ARPA to improve our community and address needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Harrisonburg City Council will hold work sessions this summer to begin discussions on how best to use these funds to support The Friendly City.
The goals of the Harrisonburg ARPA program are to:
- Support families and businesses struggling with the public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Maintain vital public services, even amid declines in revenue resulting from the crisis
- Build a strong, resilient, and equitable recovery by making investments that support long-term growth and opportunity
These funds represent a once-in-a-generation investment in our community, and we appreciate the community members who have provided their input to help us understand the impacts, needs, and ideas for restoring and transforming our community.
How can ARPA funding be used to help our community?
The following focus areas are all options for how these dollars can help Harrisonburg:
Community Health and Wellness - Supporting physical, mental health and substance abuse programs and support for social services and programming.
Neighborhood Investments - Improvement to roads and sidewalks, housing rehabilitation, parks, recreation, enhancement of public spaces, community and recreation centers, and improved connectivity and integration of alternate modes of transportation such as greenway trails and projects to improve walkability.
Community Services for Individuals and Families - Homeless and housing services, childcare, youth programs, programs and support for seniors.
Public Facilities and Services - Improvements to public buildings and facilities, public safety programs and equipment.
Maintaining and Growing Jobs and Businesses - Investments in areas negatively impacted by the pandemic such as tourism, travel and hospitality; efforts to increase job creation and workforce training; and considering how to address the impacts on wages and salaries.
What are the parameters that control spending these funds?
The U.S. Department of Treasury regulates and enforces the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). Treasury’s Final Rule describes eligible and ineligible uses of funds as well as other program provisions. The Final Rule went into effect on April 1, 2022. Local governments additionally must comply with Treasury’s Compliance and Reporting Guidance and meet compliance and reporting responsibilities defined in the Final Rule, which includes submitting mandatory periodic reports to Treasury.
An overview of the Final Rule is provided in this brief (ARPA-SLFRF Final Rule Brief [424KB] ) developed by the City of Harrisonburg City Manager’s Office and Finance Department.
The full text of the Final Rule is available on the U.S. Treasury’s ARPA Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds: https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/coronavirus/assistance-for-state-local-and-tribal-governments/state-and-local-fiscal-recovery-funds
The Final Rule presumes certain services are eligible for the City of Harrisonburg to fund through ARPA if these are provided in a geographic area federally-designated as a Qualified Census Tract or in Census Tracts with median income below $40,626. These maps show the Census Tracts in the City of Harrisonburg that meet these eligibility standards per the Final Rule:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Q: Has the City already spent some of these ARPA funds?
A: The Harrisonburg City Council has obligated funding from ARPA to support three projects as of June 30. Those projects are:
- Construction of a fifth Harrisonburg fire station, which will reduce response times across the city - especially in the Park View area of the city and in the area around Station 4 on Rock Street. No funds have been spent at this time. View HFD Chief Matthew Tobia's presentation to City Council on the need for a fifth fire station.
- Purchase of a property to house a shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness in Harrisonburg, which will establish a permanent low-barrier shelter in the city for the first time. No funds have been spent at this time.
- Supporting retention payments to City staff members to ensure essential City services continue unchanged and to make the City of Harrisonburg more competitive in job recruitment of vital positions. Cost: $2 million. Vew Interim City Manager Ande Banks' presentation to City Council on the one-time retention payments.
Q: Is there a chance the City could receive more than $23.8 million in ARPA funding?
A: The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) included $1.9 trillion to aid public health and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Harrisonburg directly will receive $23.8 million. Billions of dollars of other ARPA funds will flow through the Commonwealth of Virginia to communities, businesses and households. The City has hired an ARPA Coordinator who will work to identify additional dollars that could benefit the Harrisonburg community, and to coordinate effort to apply for funding for special projects brought up during the ARPA engagement process. That's why your feedback is so important, regardless of what projects have already been selected.
The Commonwealth Institute has more information on how funding from the American Rescue Plan Act has been categorized in Virginia. See the image below or visit https://thecommonwealthinstitute.org/the-half-sheet/use-of-arpa-funds-a-step-forward-more-to-be-done-to-build-a-just-future/